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Fulham relegation confirmed as Hornets run riot

Watford 4 Fulham 1

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Tom Cairney

Tom Cairney

PA

Tom Cairney

Fulham will spend next season in the Championship after this 4-1 thrashing at Watford confirmed their relegation from the Premier League.

Their season of struggle reached its inevitable conclusion at Vicarage Road, where fine goals from Abdoulaye Doucoure, Will Hughes, Troy Deeney and Kiko Femenia ensured a ninth successive defeat, after Ryan Babel's finish had briefly given the visitors hope of at least delaying their demise.

Following 33 league fixtures they have a disappointing total of 17 points, which leaves them 16 from safety. With -46 they also have the division's worst goal difference, having already sacked two managers in Slavisa Jokanovic and Claudio Ranieri, and all after their net spend of £106million over the past two transfer windows represented the third highest in the league.

It took until midway through the first half for play to become stretched, but it did so quickly and convincingly.

Aleksandar Mitrovic had just had a shot saved by Ben Foster when Femenia broke down the right wing and delivered a cross towards Deeney, who should have tested Sergio Rico with a diving header but his effort went harmlessly wide.

Scored

Doucoure scored his second goal in two games when receiving possession from Hughes towards the edge of the area, carrying it just inside as the visitors' defence backed off, and then striking low, inside the left post and beyond the diving Rico's reach.

Fulham were expected to instantly struggle, but they instead briefly demonstrated some of the resilience that caretaker manager Scott Parker has tried to instill in them.

In possession in the 33rd minute, Ryan Sessegnon played a fine through-ball to Babel that took out Adrian Mariappa and left the forward with only Foster to round, which he did before calmly scoring.

The visitors quickly again found themselves under pressure in the second half, with both Jose Holebas and substitute Andre Gray threatening, before it took a superb strike for Watford's lead to be restored.

When Maxime le Marchand attempted to head clear from a 63rd-minute corner, he did so only as far as inside the edge of the area, from where the composed Hughes calmly strode forward under the high ball to brilliantly volley home.

Amid further poor defending in the 69th minute, Gray raced clear into Fulham's penalty area and squared to Deeney, who put victory beyond doubt.

Gray then provided a similar assist for Femenia, who from narrowly further out than Deeney also finished first time, as the hosts climbed to eighth.